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EU calls for Georgia probe, backs observer mission

Latest update : 2008-09-06

Calling for an international inquiry into the Russia-Georgia conflict, EU foreign ministers agreed to send a peace mission to Georgia to monitor the withdrawal of Russian troops, accused of failing to respect an EU-brokered six-point peace plan.

EU foreign ministers called Saturday for a prompt international inquiry into the Russia-Georgia conflict and the rapid deployment of an EU observer mission to Georgia.

"We have all underscored the need for an international inquiry on the unfolding of the conflict in Georgia," said French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner after two days of talks with his 26 EU counterparts southern France.

"This inquiry needs to be launched as soon as possible," he added.

The agreement on the twin initiatives strengthens the hand of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who will travel to Moscow on Monday for talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Sarkozy, whose nation holds the EU's rotating presidency, will attempt to persuade Moscow to withdraw its forces in Georgia to the positions they held before the conflict broke out on August 7, in line with an agreed peace plan.

"This enquiry needs to be launched quickly," Kouchner said, stressing that it should be carried out by a body such as the United Nations or the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

The EU foreign ministers -- meeting in the wake of an emergency EU summit on Georgia -- went on to agree on the need for an autonomous observer mission to be sent under the aegis of the bloc's common foreign and security policy.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana confirmed that preparations are underway and that the observer mission should be officially endorsed by EU ministers on September 15.

However, several EU officials said the result of Sarkozy's talks on Monday would decide how the mission -- expected to be around 150-strong -- could be deployed.

Date created : 2008-09-06